The Haft Paykar, or Seven Portraits, is the fourth of the five narrative poems of the Khamsa of Nizami, and tells the story of the legendary fifth-century Sasanian king Bahram Gur. The tale is believed to contain the poet’s own views on love and emphasizes the importance of self-knowledge. Raised at the court of an Arab king, Bahram Gur one day found his way into a locked palace room, where he encountered seven portraits of seven princesses representing the seven climes of antiquity. After becoming king, Bahram Gur took these “seven beauties” as brides and built each a domed pavilion. He visited each of his brides on successive days of the week, dressed in robes that matched the color associated with each pavilion. In this painting, Bahram Gur wears a blue robe and is seated in the Turquoise Pavilion of Princess Piruza (Persian for “turquoise”).
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Bahram Gur Visits the Dome of Piruza on Wednesday, Page from the Haft paykar (Seven Portraits), from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami (d. 1209), 16th century. Ink, opaque watercolors, and gold on burnished paper, 10 1/8 x 5 11/16 in. (25.7 x 14.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, By exchange, 36.273.2